Barbie Dolls Criticised for Inadequate PPE in Scientific Roles

Barbie is often said to be able to do anything, but if she aims to be a scientist or a doctor, she needs better personal protective equipment (PPE).

According to a new study by the British Medical Journal, the iconic doll has been advised to improve her scientific credentials. Not only does Barbie frequently lack appropriate PPE, but she is also shown handling hazardous equipment and machinery with her hair loose and wearing high heels.

“Personal protective equipment may not be fashionable, but no woman wants to be ‘drop dead gorgeous’ due to preventable causes,” the study cautioned.

The research examined 93 Barbie career dolls, including 53 doctors, 10 scientists, 15 nurses, 11 additional scientists, 1 paramedic, and 1 science educator. Concerns were raised about shoes, skirts, and trousers ending above the ankle. The dolls primarily worked with children, with only 4 per cent depicted as working with adults. It was found that while 98 per cent of the dolls had a stethoscope, only 4 per cent had any PPE, and none wore the full protective equipment necessary for real-world medical and scientific work.

The study noted that the dolls lacked specific specialisations. It concluded, “Barbie boasts an impressive resume across various careers, many in male-dominated fields. To ensure Barbie is not barred from her workplace, future dolls should be equipped with the necessary PPE for laboratory and medical safety. Moreover, Dr Barbie should explore scientific and medical subfields where women are still a minority, for the benefit of young girls as well as herself.”

This year, the Barbie movie shattered box office records, and Mattel is planning a future live-action film featuring their American Girl dolls.